Fri, Oct 28, 2005 - Page 5 News List

`Red Capitalist' Rong Yiren dies

AP , BEIJING

Former Chinese vice president Rong Yiren (榮毅仁), a onetime textile magnate who joined the communist government and played a key role in launching economic reforms, earning the nickname "Red Capitalist," has died at age 89, the government announced yesterday.

Rong died on Wednesday night in Beijing of illness, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It didn't give any other details.

Rong was a wealthy textile magnate who stayed in China after the 1949 revolution and handed over his fortune to the communists.

He was persecuted during the ultraleftist 1966-76 Cultural Revolution but later rehabilitated when then-supreme leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) invited him in 1978 to help launch economic reforms. Deng called Rong his "Red Capitalist."

Rong created the China International Trust and Investment Corp, or CITIC, which became the main vehicle for the communist leadership's capitalist-style investments.

Rong was named vice president in 1993, becoming China's highest-ranking noncommunist official. He left the post in 1998.

In 2000, the US business magazine Forbes ranked Rong as China's richest businessman, with a fortune estimated at US$1.9 billion in CITIC shares.

His son, Larry Yung, also known as Rong Zhijian (榮智健), is chairman of CITIC's Hong Kong arm, Citic Pacific Ltd, and has a fortune estimated at US$1 billion.

No information about other survivors or funeral plans was immediately released.

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